“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
The ideal of being customer focused cannot be undermined or over emphasized. Every employee in a company must be motivated enough to come to work with ideas on what can be done for making customers successful. Leaders may argue that their primary role would be to create financial prosperity for the company and afford high ROI for the shareholders – which is true, however, the surest path to do all of that is by putting in place strategies to make the company’s customers successful. If customers were not successful, they would not make money, which in turn means that they would not remain customers. Without customers, there can be no business. Making customers successful is related directly to the success and prosperity of a company, especially when customers know that their success has something to do with their association with the company.
As with any initiative and effort, making customers successful is not something that would happen overnight and without complete focus. It is important for a company to make time to understand customers, know their business and vision, realize their pain areas and strengths, and the overall strategies they have for the growth of their business. In addition, a company must share its own goals, and interact with customers to exchange ideas that would help the customer’s business become more successful. As mentioned, within the customer’s success lies the attainment of goals of the company. The fact that many companies continue to ignore is that making customers successful is an idea that goes beyond treating customers as ‘numbers or transactions’. It is more than constantly wanting to sell to them and earn from them. It is about building a strong relationship and an emotional bond, and finding ways to help customers grow more rapidly. In any case, the faster a customer’s business grows, the more business and revenue they would be able to provide to a company.
Today’s business environment consists of companies of all sorts – a diverse ‘ecosystem’ of business. Even if a customer may be too small to create high revenue for a company, it could still be worth retaining and helping them because of their possible long-term importance and ability to influence growth. There are no guarantees that a big customer of today would remain so even tomorrow, or that a smaller customer today would not become a company’s most influential and profitable one in the near future – the business environment is far to dynamic and in a state of constant change. For a company it is necessary to have a mix of customers – some who would be growing swiftly, and others who may not be too ‘big’ but would have tactical importance for the company. Make making customers successful a habit and a practice in the company – it would be worth every investment of time and other resources.
In the spirit and practice of making customers successful, a company’s top executives must make time to explore areas of common interest and mutual benefit with customers with the top person of their customer’s company. In addition, there would frequent interaction and interfacing with other people in the customer’s company, and it would make sense to meet with them, get to know them better, and ask relevant questions about the processes and procedures they follow when conducting business. The reason for doing so would be gain maximum alignment with the customer – for example understand their payment cycle, and set your invoicing systems around that. Aligning with customers and their processes, would make things a lot easier for them, and your support would make them successful, which in turn would make your company successful.
The only way to start building a relationship with customers is to encourage them to interact with your company. Customers would be more inclined to interact if they believe your company to be honest, know that you will do what you promise and deliver on their timelines and budget. Customers want to grow and become successful, and would therefore want to collaborate with companies they can trust and are easy to deal with. In addition, customers want transparency in processes and regular dealings. By being all these ‘things’ to customers, your company would contribute to making them successful, and in turn they would want to stay with your company.
Today is the age of information. Customers (just like all others) have easy access to free information all the time. However, all the information would not always be useful and relevant, and it would be hard for customers to sift useful information from irrelevant stuff. In the ‘quest’ of making customers successful, a company should provide customers with relevant information, useful articles, and other engaging content. This information could be around trends in the customer’s industry, material on new marketing trends, latest technology and software, customer service best practices, and other such useful data. Customers would be thankful for this effort, since clearly, it would be outside the scope of the agreement, and it would help them forge ahead and move towards success. As customers gain more business and success, they would be sure to reciprocate and pass on a lot of it to the company that helped them along the way.
Customers love companies that make them feel important and place them on a pedestal. It costs nothing to put customers before the company, speak about their success before that of the company, and make highlighting their achievements a practice. As a company makes concerted effort to make customers successful, at least 90% of them would feel emotionally connected with the company, and would do whatever possible to make the company successful too. Customers that do not recognize your efforts, or do not bother helping your company, would be a small percentage that could be ‘fired’. It would be better to work towards making customers successful who would return the favor.
In today’s digitized world, the human touch and personal interactions seem to have been relegated to the background. However, the customers of today are increasingly demanding, seeking personalization and customization, and want to engage with companies that have the willingness and ability to capture their mind and heart. Companies that can do so, would actually be making customers successful with each passing day, and in the bargain would gain success and growth for their own business too. A company must be prudent enough to know that it would in its best interest to give the customers everything they need in order to be successful. Ensure that customers completely understand the features and benefits of the company’s offerings, and show them why no one else in the market would be capable of providing the same. It would be necessary to equip the customers with whatever information they need to be successful at every stage of their ‘journey’ with a company.
For making customers successful and insuring the success of a company, it would be necessary to be clear about revenue targets, milestones the company would help the customer achieve, and any other topics that would be of interest to the customer. As mentioned, it should not be about the company and its offerings – the focus must remain on making customers successful, which in any case would translate to the success of the company. Developing mutually beneficial relationships with customers will make them more successful, will help the company grow, and would be a sustainable win-win situation for all involved.